A new oral his­tory tells the thrilling tale of how rock’n’roll was re­born in New York City

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC -

Aside from tales of the rise and fall of var­i­ous acts, Good­man is ex­cel­lent when it comes to draw­ing out the con­text and cul­tural shifts

Ev­ery scene needs a chron­i­cler like Lizzy Good­man. When she took a sum­mer job work­ing in a New York cafe in 1999, lit­tle did she know that she was in the right place at the right time to document a new mu­si­cal scene. All she knew was that one of her work­mates was a dude called Nick and he played in a band called The Strokes.

Fast-for­ward to 2017 and Meet Me In the Bath­room: Re­birth & Rock & Roll In New

York City 2001-2011 is a meaty oral his­tory of those fas­ci­nat­ing years when New York was once again the cen­tre of the mu­si­cal uni­verse. Bands such as The Strokes, In­ter­pol, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsys­tem, The Walk­men, The Na­tional and oth­ers put the city back on the map and pro­duced a scin­til­lat­ing sound­track. Like all great oral his­to­ries,

Meet Me In the Bath­room is a wild read be­cause you’re get­ting the opinions and rec­ol­lec­tions of some colour­ful char­ac­ters - not all of them re­mem­ber­ing it in quite the same way. Aside from the bands and mu­si­cians, we hear from the bar­tenders, DJs, jour­nal­ists, pro­mot­ers, la­bel reps, mod­els, groupies, blog­gers and as­sorted hanger-ons who made up the scene.

Good­man con­ducted more than 200 in­ter­views to make sense of the mul­ti­ple lay­ers around bands form­ing, de­vel­op­ing and grow­ing. She talks about what New York was like in the mid- to late-1990s, an­tic­i­pates the changes which were about to hap­pen in the city (the move to Brook­lyn and the gen­tri­fi­ca­tion of Man­hat­tan’s Lower East Side were still a lit­tle way off) and in­tro­duces the char­ac­ters.

It was The Strokes who changed ev­ery­thing. Their de­but al­bum Is This It was a gritty, ex­hil­a­rat­ing call to arms, and sud­denly, the uni­form of leather jacket, skinny jeans and Con­verse be­came ubiq­ui­tous.

Some of the best yarns con­cern DFA Records and LCD Soundsys­tem. There’s Ir­ish in­ter­est in the shape of Do­minique Kee­gan (from Plant Records and the Plant bar), Mar­cus ‘Shit Ro­bot’ Lam­bkin and David Holmes, all of whom played roles in the for­ma­tion of that la­bel. There’s some fan­tas­tic ob­ser­va­tions and colour – for ex­am­ple, James Mur­phy hav­ing to get per­mis­sion from his ther­a­pist to try ec­stasy for the first time.

Aside from tales of the rise and fall of var­i­ous acts, Good­man is ex­cel­lent when it comes to draw­ing out the con­text and cul­tural shifts of the time. There are pas­sages which delve into the emer­gence of mu­sic blogs and their ef­fect on new acts, the gen­tri­fi­ca­tion of Brook­lyn, and how the in­die rock scene was used by ma­jor la­bel bands such as Kings of Leon and The Killers.

As a vivid, can­did and com­pelling ac­count of what New York was like be­fore it be­came the city it is to­day, Meet

Me In the Bath­room strikes all the right notes. As oral his­to­ries go, this is one of the very best.

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